Through The Lens: These Film Clubs In Delhi Are Worth Watching

From Alliance Française's Cine Club which champions French cinema, to the Habitat Film Club for the most bonkers arthouse and parallel cinema, discover some key film clubs to join and channelise your love for cinema
A group of people sitting for a film screening
A group of people sitting for a film screening Unsplash

Film clubs and film societies in India have a long history dating back to the 1940s, which culminated in the widespread youth culture of the 1960s. The first Indian film society was the Calcutta Film Society (CFS). It was founded in 1947 by Satyajit Ray and comrades. The CFS sparked a movement among educated young people in urban India to find a uniquely Indian way of telling stories on celluloid.

Following this, film societies gradually started popping up along the length and breadth of the country. The nation witnessed the birth of the Delhi Film Society, the Madras Film Society, the Patna Film Society, the Bombay Film Society, the Roorkee Film Society, and more which probably remain undocumented. Later on in 1959, the six existing film societies merged to form a Federation of Film Societies of India (FSSI) to further solidify cinema's presence and make it accessible and available.

The onset of multimedia and the advancement of technology dwindled the cultural importance of films but a recent resurgence has been observed in Indian metropolitan cities. In Delhi alone there are several film clubs that rigorously screen films, indulge in film discourses, get renowned filmmakers and film scholars to speak and give talks, and encourage film buffs to come out and join the act.

We have curated a list of film clubs in Delhi which host regular screenings and discussions that are free to join if you're enchanted by the lights and shadows of cinema.

Alliance Française Cine Club

A shot from iconic French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard's 'Breathless' (1960)
A shot from iconic French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard's 'Breathless' (1960)Criterion Collection/x

In collaboration with the French Embassy in India, the Alliance Française de Delhi (AFD) regularly organises screenings of French films at the M.L. Bhartia Auditorium. The Cine Club is a chance to explore French culture and the cultures of various French-speaking countries throughout the year. It showcases a diverse selection of classical and contemporary films.

The film festivals are curated based on different themes or spotlight notable French directors. They also provide a space for various arthouse and independent filmmakers to have their works seen. Naturally, all their films are complemented with English subtitles for the audience's ease. You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram or their website to be up to date with their film schedules.

Address: 72, KK Birla Ln, Lodhi Gardens, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi, Delhi 110003

Habitat Film Club

Sharmila Tagore in Satyajit Ray's 'Apur Sansar' as Aparna
Sharmila Tagore in Satyajit Ray's 'Apur Sansar' as Aparna@movieframes1319/x

The Habitat Film Club has created a buzzing culture around cinema by regularly screening films, hosting film festivals and offering weekly talks. The club is a member of the FSSI and gives film enthusiasts a broad selection of movies to choose from around the world, as well as hosting masterclasses, interactive sessions, retrospectives and more.

Its two annual festivals, the Habitat International Film Festival and the Habitat Film Festival, feature critically acclaimed international and award-winning pan-Indian cinema, respectively. The club aims to expose members to diverse cinema, from early classics to the avant-garde styles of new filmmakers, the works of legends as well as the rising stars of Indian and world cinema. You can visit their website and register yourself as a member, or simply join one of their film schedules.

Address: Lodhi Road Near Airforce Bal Bharati School, Lodhi Road, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi, Delhi 110003

Indian International Centre Film Club

An iconic shot from Akira Kurosawa's 'Ran' (1985)
An iconic shot from Akira Kurosawa's 'Ran' (1985)@OnePerfectShot/x

The Film Club was established in 1967 and is one of the oldest film societies in Delhi. It welcomes members from diverse backgrounds, including filmmakers, artists, scholars and enthusiasts. The club aims to showcase exceptional films outside the commercial mainstream such as experimental and arthouse cinema. They do this through monthly screenings, curated festivals and retrospectives that highlight renowned directors worldwide. Some notable retrospectives have featured directors like Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa and Satyajit Ray, as well as Indian luminaries such as Ritwik Ghatak and Shyam Benegal.

Documentary screenings, animated movies, discussions and thematic festivals that address pressing societal and ecological issues are a mainstay of this club. It has garnered numerous accolades for its significant contributions to the film society movement of India. You can follow film screenings and talk schedules on their website and contact them if you wish to register as a member.

Address: 40, Max Mueller Marg, Lodhi Gardens, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi, Delhi 110003

Japanese Foundation Cinema Club

A still from the Japanese film 'After the Storm' (2016) by Kore Eda
A still from the Japanese film 'After the Storm' (2016) by Kore EdaOfficial Website: Mubi

The Japan Foundation Cinema Club is a cultural centre and film destination in Lajpat Nagar. It showcases a range of unique screenings, themed selections and movies with subtitles, all offered free of charge. The films are shown mainly on weekends but occasionally on weekdays and are open to everyone without the requirement of passes or invitations.

The Japan Foundation offers a diverse selection of captivating Japanese films for viewers to enjoy throughout the year. You can join the cinema club and obtain a complimentary membership card from the reception area. This card provides access to the world of Japanese cinema and the opportunity to win exciting Japanese goods.

Address: A-13, Sri Aurobindo Marg, Block A, Green Park Extension, Green Park, New Delhi, Delhi 110016


A still from Robert Weine's German expressionist genius 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' (1920)
A still from Robert Weine's German expressionist genius 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari' (1920)Wikimedia Commons

Cinedarbaar is committed to promoting research, aesthetics, art, culture and education at the grassroots level while fostering intellectual discourse. Their mission is to create a space for diverse artistic and cultural expressions in India to promote synergy, human development and unity. The organisation hopes to revitalise the cultural, artistic and media sectors using popular platforms and their ultimate goal is to deepen people's understanding of human relationships and the arts. You can contact them through their social media for membership-related queries and follow their posts to remain up to date with their film schedules.


A glimpse from the film 'Scenes with Beans' (1976) by Ottó Foky
A glimpse from the film 'Scenes with Beans' (1976) by Ottó FokyOfficial Website: Mubi

The Shamiana Film Club is a platform that caters to those who appreciate the charm of short films. It provides a refreshing alternative to lengthy cinematic experiences by showcasing a diverse selection of shorts from India and around the world. Spearheaded by Two Plus Productions—pioneers in India's short film landscape—Shamiana celebrates the artistry and storytelling prowess found in compact narratives. It rejects the notion that film length dictates its impact.

With chapters spanning Mumbai, Bengaluru and Nagaland, Shamiana offers a unique opportunity for film enthusiasts to connect with one another and share their passion for short films which transcends geographical boundaries. You can go on to their social media for enquiries about membership and keep up with their film screening announcements.

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